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Assembly approves Modern Family Act

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SACRAMENTO – The Assembly today passed the Modern Family Act, AB 2344 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano on a 60-2 vote. The bill would implement changes that would reduce unnecessary legal fighting surrounding families who use assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as surrogacy or in vitro fertilization. It would primarily, but not exclusively, benefit LGBT couples who have families through ART.

“The science behind having families has advanced more quickly than the laws,” Assemblymember Ammiano said. “This bill is just an attempt to catch up with the realities and help these couples enjoy their modern families.”

The law has three main aspects which affect families started using a sperm donor, those using surrogates and those in which a step-parent adopts a partner’s child.

The first establishes a statutory form – much as currently exists for wills – that may be used in the event of pregnancy achieved through sperm donations. The form would lay out parenting rights and responsibilities, if any, for the donor. This would significantly reduce future litigation on the issue and therefore could lighten the burden on crowded courts.

The second provides that in cases of surrogacy – a growing phenomenon in California - the responsibility for medical costs are clearly specified, given that some insurance coverage excludes surrogacy. This would provide clarity for cost responsibility for care of both the surrogate and the newborn.

The final provision applies to step-parent adoptions and rectifies an inequity that applies to families of same-sex married couples or registered domestic partners. Some states, unlike California, do not accept birth certificates unless they include one female mother and one male father, forcing these couples to go through an expensive step-parent adoption process to guarantee parental rights in other states.

This provision would merely provide a streamlined adoption process for such parents that meet specified criteria and would waive associated fees.

The Modern Family Act now goes to the Senate for committee and floor consideration.

CONTACT: Carlos Alcalá, Communications Director, (916) 319-2017

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